BaliUbud $$$$$ All Year Mostly Outdoor
Religious

Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave)

A small yet sacred temple 10 minutes’ drive from the center of Ubud, remarkable for the combination of Hindu and Buddhist worship. The main temple is located within a dark, narrow cave accessible via a steep staircase and quiet courtyard. The cave interior is split into 2 sections, the first being a sacred Hindu site with statues of gods Trilingga and Ganesh. The second section is Buddhist with several ancient stone Buddha statues. 

Outside the cave is a bathing pool with fountains, where locals come to wash with holy water before religious rituals and ceremonies. Just passed the pool is another steep staircase that leads to fallen moss-covered stone statues and rock boulders, lush greenery, and a waterfall teeming into a sacred river. Movie buffs would could easily think they've stepped into a scene from Indiana Jones. 

Don’t let the name “Elephant Cave” deceive you, there are no elephants here. The cave was named after the nearby Elephant River (Sungai Petanu). 

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Price

Adult: Rp50,000 (USD$3.39), Child: Rp25,000 ($1.70)

Time Spent

45-60minutes

Fitness level: Light effort

Hours

8am-5pm7 days

Look Around

Initial view of courtyard from descending stairsInitial view of courtyard from descending stairs
Rock wall carvings depicting Hindu angels within a sacred bathing poolRock wall carvings depicting Hindu angels within a sacred bathing pool
Small shrine near the main caveSmall shrine near the main cave
Sacred treeSacred tree
Around the courtyard
Iconic carved entrance to caveIconic carved entrance to cave
Stone statue inside the caveStone statue inside the cave
Soot-lined interior of cave from candles burningSoot-lined interior of cave from candles burning
Inside the cave
Descending another staircase to the lower ravineDescending another staircase to the lower ravine
Hindu priest sitting beneath a sacred treeHindu priest sitting beneath a sacred tree
Looking upwardsLooking upwards
Ruins from former temple destroyed by an earthquakeRuins from former temple destroyed by an earthquake
Indiana Jones-style ruins can be circled on footIndiana Jones-style ruins can be circled on foot
Slippery mud and shallow creek surrounds the ruinsSlippery mud and shallow creek surrounds the ruins
Around the lower temple area
More moss-lined ruinsMore moss-lined ruins
Small waterfall on left is source of water around ruinsSmall waterfall on left is source of water around ruins
Elevated roots of sacred tree Elevated roots of sacred tree
Around the ravine

Who Will Like Goa Gajah

Culture Buff

Witness the Balinese relationship with nature and spirituality while walking among moss-covered sculptures and through a sacred meditation cave.

Nature Lover

Walk through the lush jungle below soaring, moss-covered trees and hear the peaceful trickle of water fountains. 

Insider Tips For Goa Gajah

  • Dress respectfully with covered shoulders and knees. Don’t be tricked into buying a sarong from pushy market vendors as sarong hire is included in the entrance fee.
  • Minimal signage and information is available within the cave and grounds. If you want to learn about the religious traditions taking place, go with a tour guide. Tour guides usually wait around the car park, don't be afraid to barter a reasonable price.
  • Self-appointed guides wait near the cave and try to lead you around the site. They expect  a generous tip for their effors so don't follow them or ask them questions if you don't want to pay.

Video

Where Is It

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Ubud, Bedulu, Blahbatuh, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia

How To Get There

Car

Rp2,000 (USD$0.14) • Large parking lot near entrance. Parking fees are not consistently collected (so you may not be asked). Cars at a higher rate: Rp5,000.

Driving directions... More details...

Taxi

Private drivers will usually offer to wait in the parking lot until you return. Otherwise private drivers can be readily found near the parking lot.

What To Bring

Do:
  • Respectful clothing that covers your shoulders and knees.
  • Camera for photos.
  • Water bottle.
Don't:
  • Valuable belongings like large amounts of cash.

Tech & Photography

Wifi

Public wifi access: None

Photography

Photography allowed: Yes

Tripod allowed: Not encouraged

Selfie sticks allowed: Not encouraged

Best time to shoot: Early Morning

Tips: Be respectful to worshipers. Don't photograph them without asking for permission in advance. Sometimes in a priest in white clothing can be found in the lower complex and will pose for photos (ensure you tip him afterwards).

Drones

Drones allowed: No

Bags

Backpacks allowed: Yes

Secured bag lockers available: No

Food & Drink

Larger restaurants and cafes selling traditional Balinese food are located on the main street outside the complex. Several street vendors selling snacks and cold drinks in the carpark and along the path to the cave. One very shrewd drink vendor is located at the top of the stairs to the lower temple area.

Backstory

The cave’s history dates back to the 11th century when it was used as a sacred place of meditation. It was rediscovered by Dutch archaeologists in 1923 with findings like wall carvings shedding light into the peaceful cohabitation between Hindu and Buddhist worshippers. The fountains and pool were only found in 1954.

Several stone relics have since been laid out in the courtyard.

Etiquette

Do:
  • Wear respectful clothing and borrow a sarong at the entrance.
  • Keep voices hushed. Be respectful of worshippers.
Don't:
  • Disrupt worshippers or photograph them.
  • Step on offerings or damage them in any other way.

Scorecard

Best Parts:
  • Relaxing, natural atmosphere with moss-covered trees and stone statues.
  • Active place of worship. Witness daily meditations and prayers.
Could Be Better:
  • Carpark vendors try to pressure tourists to buy sarongs.
  • Steep, uneven steps to courtyard and lower temple area.
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